Ethics and Information Technology

, Volume 3, Issue 3, pp 171–180 | Cite as

Facing the future: Seeking ethics for everyday surveillance

  • David Lyon

Abstract

Surveillance has become a routine, everyday occurrence ininformational societies. Many agencies have an interest in personal data, and a wide spectrum of them use searchabledatabases to classify and catalogue such data. From policingto welfare to the Internet and e-commerce, personal data havebecome very valuable, economically and administratively. Whilequestions of privacy are indeed raised by such surveillance,the processes described here have as much to do with social sorting,and thus present new problems of automated categorization of datasubjects. Privacy and data protection measures do address someof the questions raised, but they tend to be limited to individualisticreadings of the situation, and not to consider issues of fairnessand equality. An ethics for everyday surveillance is proposed thatconsiders personhood as central, but highlights its social andembodied dimensions. Reductionism of practice and of analysisis thus avoided as the face comes to the fore. Hence the title.

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Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 2001

Authors and Affiliations

  • David Lyon
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of SociologyQueen's UniversityKingstonCanada

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